Jumping on the sexual abuse bandwagon

Let me start this off by saying that any form of abuse, particularly sexual abuse is totally abhorrent. The perpetrators of these offences are not only committing a crime against an individual but at society in general.
There is however another particularly nasty aspect to sexual abuse. The fact that anyone accused of such a crime is presumed guilty until proven innocent.
This is further exacerbated by the nature of these crimes usually being committed in places far from public view and possible witnesses. Where as a rape case can sometimes be very easily proved with physical and DNA evidence, other forms of sexual abuse such as those accused of Australian Swimming Coach Greg Hodge, are very hard to prove or disprove as the case may be.


Another illustration of this can be seen in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign to become Governor of California.
In this case the charges of sexual abuse levelled against him were used as a weapon. There is no other way to describe they way and the timing these in which these accusations were laid.
Arnold has been a very rich man for a long time but no one came forward with anything until he decided to run for office.
These claims obviously had two purposes. Firstly to hinder his chances in the election. Secondly fame and or personal gain by writing a book (or having it ghost written) about the “ordeal” and also selling the exclusive story to tabloids and their television counterparts, Current Affairs shows.
What is common to both Greg Hodge and Arnie’s situation is that after seeing how much attention the first accuser achieved with a well timed “tell all story”, other people start to jump on the band wagon suddenly recalling past instances of abuse that had laid dormant for lo these many years.
High profile people, Politicians, Entertainers and a number of professions like Teaching, Doctors and Child Care etc are particularly vulnerable to attacks such as these because the mud when thrown by a vindictive assailant sticks very easily. Especially when in the case of Greg Hodge, certain parts of the media are in there throwing handfuls of it as well.

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23 comments

  1. Dave J

    At least they can take some comfort in not having been accused in Canada, where the burden of proof for sex crimes isn’t just reversed in the court of public opinion, but legally as well, thanks to a Supreme Court that makes the Ninth Circuit look like the Second Coming of Blackstone.

  2. Mithras

    Blame the victim. Gotcha. They all lied. Not only is Arnold presumed innocent, but the women are presumed guilty. That’s a nice strategy.

  3. Matt Clarke

    Yes Arnold is presumed innocent until proven guilty is he not?
    I placed no blame on anyone.
    It just seems so convenient that he happened to be running for office when these charges were laid.
    It may even be possible that he in fact did do these things. It may even have been dug up during the muck raking by his political opponents. These opponents may have even prompted these people to come forward.
    It also may be possible that Elvis is still alive.
    Anything is possible. It is even possible that this all coming to light just when he was at his most vulnerable is just a coincidence.

  4. Dave J

    Mithras, I’ve assisted in the prosecution of sex crimes: I’m the last person in the world to blame the victim. But you seem to miss the point that the system is supposed to be there as much to exonerate the innocent as to condemn the guilty. If someone is falsely accused, they ARE the victim.
    The post and these comments are meant to address far more than just Arnold, but I suppose the L.A. Times rehashing a story largely covered by Premiere two years ago, making accusations that can never truly be defended against since the statute of limitations has expired, and coincidentally dropped on the traditional “Dirty Tricks Thursday” before election day strikes you as perfectly above-board objective and ethical journalism?

  5. Mithras

    Dave J., Arnold hasn’t been accused by the government of anything. So, this “guilty until proved innocent” thing is a bit off the mark. As you say, the statute of limitations has run, so there isn’t even a chance of Arnold facing prosecution.
    What this post is really about is attacking the accusers. If these women lied, then let Arnold sue them for defamation. He certainly can under the Sullivan test. I suspect he won’t – because truth is a defense.
    If the charges are just a “rehash” of what had been covered before, then why is it supposed to be so underhanded to run another story about them? If it’s old news, then it seems to me it wouldn’t be so harmful. What is this about a “dirty tricks Thursday”? Never heard that one before – sounds like Nixon declared a national holiday. Does the LAT usually go around exposing the misdeeds of movie stars? I mean, there is certainly enough drug use and other illegal activity in Hollywood. From my perspective, that sort of reporting is left to publications that cover the movie industry, like Premiere. The LAT, on the other hand, is a major daily that would investigate political candidates. Once Arnold became a candidate, he became fair game for investigation. Would you rather the press not report such accusations? No matter how serious?
    Why (as Mickey Kaus, no liberal, has argued), if the LAT were interested in harming Arnold, wouldn’t it release the story just before the one debate Arnold was in? That seems to me to be the much better way to hurt his standing.
    As I have argued elsewhere on this blog and on Tacitus, it is not surprising at all that these accusations emerged after Arnold stopped being an actor and began running for office. Why? The women involved were rightfully fearful that if they accused a major star of such things, then there would be retaliation. Once he was out of the movie business, they would feel freer to complain. Or, the women involved may have been unwilling to come forward when Arnold was in movies but were motivated by a desire not to see someone who assaulted them be rewarded with public office.
    Again, If Arnold wants to clear his name, he has recourse to the courts. There is nothing stopping him. If he doesn’t, what does that tell you?

  6. M. Scott Eiland

    “What this post is really about is attacking the accusers. If these women lied, then let Arnold sue them for defamation. He certainly can under the Sullivan test. I suspect he won’t – because truth is a defense.”
    Hmmm. So a public figure accused of sexual misconduct has to sue to clear his name in this day and age?
    Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Victorian England. Please check your libido at the door.

  7. Mithras

    Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Victorian England.
    Yeah! Let’s put some pants on those table legs. I surely am the avatar of the “no sex” brigade – as anyone who has visited my blog can attest. You got me, M. Scott.
    I can understand why you might feel your sex life is under attack. Without sexual assualt, how would conservatives get any action?

  8. Dave J

    The statute of limitations I was talking about was for civil sexual harassment, not anything to which government would be a party. As much as I might disagree with her politics, I’ll defer to Susan Estrich’s explanation that nothing Arnold was alleged to have done actually rose to the level of criminality. I seriously doubt she’d construe the law in his favor.
    I never said “they all lied.” Arnold has admitted to some allegations and has denied others. If he was to sue based on those disputed accusations, wouldn’t he be immediately accused of “blaming the victim?” I mean, these comments alone probably demonstrate that pretty clearly. Not exactly the most productive way to start your administration, I’d think, and a multimillionaire movie star suing people who are undoubtedly less wealthy (i.e., practically anyone) would be spun as vindictiveness regardless of the result. If, instead, he took the traditional advice of a plaintiff’s attorney and sued a less sympathetic defendant with deeper pockets, i.e., the L.A. Times, then is when he’d really run straight into Sullivan, since proving “actual malice” against a public figure is really next to impossible without some sort of smoking gun.
    But again, concentrating on Arnold does miss the larger point, which is that people accused of anything sex-related do, indeed, appear to be presumed guilty.

  9. Mithras

    Well, if the media were where trials are held, then you would be right. But it’s actually judges and juries that decide them, and they keep the burden of proof where it belongs. No evidence I know of shows that outcomes of sexually-related charges (civil or criminal) are less reliable than any other sort.

  10. M. Scott Eiland

    “I can understand why you might feel your sex life is under attack. Without sexual assualt, how would conservatives get any action?”
    I can see why the protest groups are lined up around the block to be represented by you, Mithras–it’s like Clarence Darrow never left us.
    Actually, if Arnold really has been involved in antisocial behavior towards women, I’d suspect that his in-laws have been the influence most responsible.
    Wait–that’s not fair. He’s accused of groping women, not drowning them.

  11. Matt Clarke

    In the case of Greg Hodge the Australian Swimming coach, the mere fact that he has been accused has seen him suspended by the Australian Swimming Authorities pending the investigation.
    If in fact he has done what he is accused of doing then he should be punished severely. Especially in light of the position of trust and authority he holds with many young men and women.
    The problem is of course that he has already been punished. Being suspended this close to the Olympic Games will be a big blow and possibly see him not attending.
    Possibly something to think about is making it illegal to publicly name the people accused of sexual crimes. This would be similar to making it illegal to publicly name minors accused of any crime.

  12. Mithras

    Matt – you mean, make it illegal to say the words, “Person X sexually assaulted me”? Think about your proposal. If you mean, no one can tell anyone – except a cop – that someone else committed a sex crime, that would be a significant restriction on the freedom of speech. If you mean, no one may name the person accused of a sex crime once charges have been brought, then that infringes on the right to have a public trial, doesn’t it? What if the person is accused of assaulting children? Wouldn’t parents want to know if their kid’s coach, teacher or day care provider was accused of sexual assault?
    M. Scott, Esq. – if Arnold really has been involved in antisocial behavior towards women, I’d suspect that his in-laws have been the influence most responsible.
    Funny. I don’t like the Kennedys much either – familial political dynasties that had their start in shady businesses don’t appeal to me much, whether they’re Democrats or Republicans. But don’t the accusations against Arnold pre-date his meeting his wife?

  13. Matt Clarke

    Yes maybe we do make it illegal to say that publicly. It is currently illegal (in Australia at least) to say “Minor X just stole my video” and yet they still have fair and public trials. Their names just can’t be used in the media.
    You said, “What if the person is accused of assaulting children? Wouldn’t parents want to know if their kid’s coach, teacher or day care provider was accused of sexual assault?”
    That is exactly my point. That person especially in a situation such as that would have their life and career ruined because of the accusations no matter how much truth their was to them.
    Of course in the above example it would spread through out the school through word of mouth but at least if the name never makes it into the newspapers they might still be able to get a job at another school.
    This of course raises the issue that these crimes are hard to prove if nothing is left behind.
    If the person was never named because their crimes could never be proved, they could theoretically go on abusing until they finally do something that can be proven in court.
    It is definitely a sad situation where no one wins.

  14. Helena Handbasket

    I can understand why you might feel your sex life is under attack. Without sexual assualt, how would conservatives get any action?
    Nice to see you sticking to the issues and avoiding ad hominem attacks.
    Asshole.

  15. Bryan

    My wife and I were accused and charged with inappropriate behavior with our own daughter. Being high profile executives, the D.A. leaked the story all over the radio, television and newspaper. Our daughter was kidnapped by local authorities without any due process. My wife and I were both removed by our companies and we lost everything we had.
    Six months passed and everything was dropped because their sole witness was proven to be a liar. Our reputations, despite the truth, were ruined. Yet the D.A. would not charge this person for filing a false report.
    It is terrible when innocent people are assumed guilty. That is what happens when sexually related charges are leveled. While laws designed to protect children and woman from the perpetrators of horrible acts are needed, when charges involve lies and distortions – there is no rememdy, only horror. You are truly screwed.
    Being in the spotlight is just not worth it. Some people are very cruel. You have to question the motivation of anyone who wants a public life today. They are either ignorant or too egotistical to know better.